PlayStation’s acquisition of Bungie isn’t about Destiny 2

Lloyd Coombes
Destiny logo

Destiny developer Bungie has been acquired by Sony in the games industry’s latest major acquisition, but it doesn’t feel like Destiny was the biggest pull factor in this deal. 

Following the recent megaton announcement of Microsoft acquiring Activision-Blizzard, Sony opened its own checkbook and has bought Bungie, once a first-party Xbox studio, into the PlayStation Studios family.

The creator of Halo is now part of Sony’s impressive suite of developers, albeit as “an independent subsidiary”.

While the move doesn’t quite make the same waves that the recent Activision-Blizzard purchase does, Bungie is far from a ‘one-trick pony’ – with plenty of reasons for PlayStation fans, even Destiny naysayers, to get excited.

What’s the Matter?

logo for Bungie's Matter game
Matter is likely a codename, but it sounds promising.

If you fell off of Destiny in the past, or if it never grabbed you to begin with, it may be somewhat hard to get excited about the $3.6 billion purchase of the franchise’s creators.

The MMO/shooter hybrid has long been divisive, with fans adoring it and plowing thousands of hours into upgrading their Guardian, and others decrying its confusing structure and insistence on purchasing expansions to keep up.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has often cited how much he enjoys playing the game, and congratulated Sony on the acquisition.

Whatever your thoughts, Destiny 2 will seemingly remain Multiplatform, meaning PC and Xbox players won’t need to switch allegiances just yet.

So, what is PlayStation getting out of this move? In a word, Matter.

While Destiny 2 is expected to see at least three more annual expansions, starting with this year’s Witch Queen, Bungie has made no secret of its intention to keep working on new projects alongside it.

Destiny 2 30th Anniversary Pack key art
Bungie recently celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a new content pack.

In 2018, the company received a $100 million dollar investment from Chinese company NetEase, for one, while CEO Pete Parsons discussed several “incubations” (pre-development concepts) in 2020.

“Actually, ironically, we expected a decently high failure rate from the incubations, and what’s happened is, we are pretty excited about the work that’s being done not just on continuing the Destiny universe, but because we’ve been able to build such a deep bench of talent, these incubations are really amazing,” Parsons told Metro.

Internally, the game’s code name, Matter, is for a more whimsical title. Job listings reference “sandbox and economy teams”, with references to a “necromancer’s dungeon” – suggesting a more fantasy-based title, something that would see the developer return to roots it laid with titles like Myth.

Of course, these references could be placeholders, and the game could end up being a sci-fi title, but with rumors suggesting the game could be an action RPG that takes inspiration from Diablo, it’s exciting to see Bungie set its sights on something new. Even if Matter ends up being multiplatform, PlayStation helping fund it means that it’s likely to be the best possible product it can be.

Sony continues to look beyond gaming

Destiny 2 Witch Queen
The Witch Queen expansion is perhaps Destiny 2’s most anticipated yet.

That’s not to say that Destiny 2 isn’t of particular interest, though. The game, which is regularly seen riding high in the Steam charts, is intended as the first step in a trans-media franchise.

Bungie is hiring for TV, movies, and more, with an eye on fleshing out the game’s undeniably unique setting and a cast of characters.

One need only turn an eye to Riot’s Arcane series, and how it intensified interest in League of Legends, to see how valuable it could be to have that kind of mindshare. Sony, poised to release a movie based on the popular Uncharted franchise, knows this all too well.

This is to say nothing of Sony’s own first-party portfolio’s shortcomings. While PlayStation Studios is a hotbed for AAA titles, Sony currently lacks a first-person shooter studio, something bought into stark contrast now that Microsoft owns the developers of Call of Duty, Overwatch, Doom, Wolfenstein, and, of course, Halo.

While Destiny has had plenty of missteps, one thing has never waivered – Bungie’s ability to create excellent first-person shooter gameplay. Could the developer be the missing link for Bungie now that Guerrilla has moved on to Horizon and Insomniac has left Resistance behind?

Time will tell, and while the backdrop of industry monopolization looms, it looks like Sony has done a shrewd bit of business, and there could be more to come.